Link building still matters. If you’ve been part of a successful link building campaign in the past, you most certainly will agree. Despite any tweaks Google has made since Penguin waddled onto the scene in 2012, Google’s algorithm is still largely based on the link graph and will be for the foreseeable future.
Penguin has changed the way that you need to acquire links, but the idea that a link from an authoritative website can help improve search engine visibility is still accurate. While on-page SEO can easily be summarized in a best practices document, link building isn’t as easy to neatly fit into a single page.
Still, there are some quick wins out there for businesses both new and old to link building. Remember: links are a sign of trust and authority to search engines. There are things that real businesses do that naturally and efficiently earn links and build trust online. Successful businesses can and do earn plenty of links without knowing what SEO stands for.
Links are a natural byproduct of business success. Sometimes you can get lost in focusing too much on advanced search parameters and backlink building tools while the guy down the street is (unknowingly) building links by shaking hands and kissing babies.
Old-school link acquisition still works, but you can drastically boost your efforts by making sure backlinks are a consistent byproduct of your business activities. The perfect link building strategy combines SEO knowledge with linkable business assets. Here are some sources for links that every business — big or small — should be pulling in left and right.
1. Your local newspaper
If you are in a small/medium sized town, we can assume a few things:
1. Your local newspaper probably has one of the highest DAs out of any local websites.
2. Your local newspaper is probably in need of a few good story ideas.
If you are launching a new product, starting a round of hiring, moving to a new office, etc. let them know about it. Local business stories are probably their bread and butter, so don’t feel bad about being self-promotional.
Online businesses might feel less ‘established’ than a brick and mortar business, but to an editor, you are probably more interesting to write about than a local joint that’s been around for dozens of years.
The best kinds of links grow your business both directly (through readers, referrals) and indirectly (through search) and no websites do this quite like local media.
2. Your local chamber of commerce
While newspapers are happy enough to publish stories about local businesses, chances are you are already _paying_ your local chamber of commerce to do this. I’ve looked at a lot of local chamber websites over the years, and most will link out to their members or sponsors. Again, this fits into the sweet spot of both direct and indirect business impact.
My semi-famous hometown of Punxsutawney, PA doesn’t have more than 7,000 people that live there. But because we’re a well-known tourist area, the local “Groundhog Club’s” website is actually popular enough to pack a SEO punch.
Here’s a listing on that site for a local restaurant and one for a local pharmacy. Both have their own, clean URL and a direct link to each business’s website.
Especially in a small town like this, you can probably make these links happen with a quick phone call or email to your local chamber.
3. Your manufacturers/suppliers/tools
I’ve worked with dozens of ecommerce websites over the years, and this is one of the most commonly missed link opportunities. If you sell red widgets made by WidgetCo, you have an obvious and natural cross-promotion opportunity. Unless a manufacturer sells their products directly to consumers, they’ll often feature a list of retailers by location. Hello, link opportunities.
The applications are obvious for traditional businesses, but there are unique opportunities for ecommerce and service based companies, too. Do you use a certain type of software? Do you rely on a certain set of tools? Do you heavily promote a specific brand?
Identify these old-school referrals that are often based on word of mouth and translate them into links.
4. Your friends and family
Asking your friends or family to like your business/website on Facebook is pretty common, but what about asking them to link to your website from their blog?
Now more than ever, the masses are starting their own websites and blogs. Your nephew might be sitting on a DA 45 blog that few people know about. Talking about your blog in real life used to be a bit awkward and strange, but not anymore.
5. Your local schools and organizations
Giving back to the community is awesome no matter what, but it’s always a little sweeter (to SEOs, at least) if your in-kind donation also lands you a DA 68 link.
In all seriousness, your business is hopefully already giving back to the community in some form. Check and make sure you are being listed online as a sponsor or member if your local organization of choice does that.
Local school and colleges can have a ton of great opportunities in this arena. I’ve seen small companies sponsor college clubs and earn great links in return.
A quick Google search or two will find tons of opportunities for you. Here’s a local high school booster club near Indianapolis that links out to corporate sponsors that only took 15 seconds to find:
Chances are good that a handful of local high school and community organization websites are offering similar opportunities in your location.
If you truly want to use links to propel your site higher in the search engines, relying solely on flavor-of-the-week link tactics or offline marketing isn’t going to get the job done. You need elements of both. These tips above should get you started on making link acquisition a byproduct of your small business.